Tsavo East National Park
is the section of the enormous Tsavo conservation area which lies to the north of the main Nairobi to Mombasa road in Southeast Kenya
At 13,747 square kilometres, Tsavo East is a very large tract of land which was originally known as the Taru Desert when it was first gazetted as a protected reserve back in 1948. It is flanked to the west by the impressive Yatta Escarpment, below which runs the substantial and relatively reliable Galana River, delineating the park from the scrubby farmland areas beyond. Above the escarpment the higher land is covered in thick acacia scrub, which eventually gives way to vast and extremely arid open savanna as the land falls gradually away to the east. Apart from the significant ribbon of vegetation along the Galana, the only other watercourses are the ephemeral Tiva and Voi rivers to the north and south respectively.
Survival for the wildlife in this harsh semi-desert environment is really challenging. Larger animals such as elephants, zebras and buffaloes tend to migrate between these few water sources and the surrounding grazing on a daily basis throughout the Jun/Nov dry season, dispersing more widely should rains materialise during the Dec/May green season.
This kind of arid landscape offers a subtle but potentially wonderful safari experience, especially in the remote northern sectors which are blissfully devoid of safari traffic ...Ithumba Hill
... is a fabulous remote camp whose main focus is its famous baby elephant orphanage and release scheme.Ithumba Camp
... is a lovely but slightly simpler option in the same location and with the same focus.
Unfortunately the southern sections of the reserve suffer badly from budget and low quality safari traffic, due to their proximity to the mass market beach lodges of coast, with the area being transected by the main Mombasa to Nairobi and Malindi to Nairobi highways. However if you are doing an overland safari through the region there are some positive reasons to pass through, notably the intense elephant at the lodge waterholes on the Voi River and the sheer landscape value of the Galana River and its adjacent escarpment ...Satao Camp
... is a relatively large and simple lodge on the Voi River, but it does have an incredibly active waterhole and prodigious elephant viewing.Ashnil Aruba Lodge
... is a large and commercial lodge, also on the Voi River, which has little going for it other than the fact that it is adjacent to the most productive waterhole in the whole reserve.Galdessa Camp
... is perhaps the most upmarket option in the reserve, set alongside the Galana River around 10km from the main Voi Gate.
We tend to include Tsavo East into trips in one of two ways ...
The remote northern areas around the elephant project at Ithumba are good enough to warrant inclusion with anywhere in Africa, so are commonly combined with other safari locations further afield, notably Chyulu Hills
. Maasai Mara
The more busy southern areas tend to only be worth including on overland safaris through this region alone, in which case they are commonly combined with lodges in Tsavo West
and the southern coast around Malindi